Your Doctor

The Month of Excess: How to Stay Safe in December

Throughout the month of December, many of us put enormous pressure on our bodies with excessive food and alcohol, and we are more likely to put ourselves in potentially risky situations. Here are our top tips to ensure you stay safe in the month of excess that is December:-

1. Do not increase your recommended calorie intake. December means delicious, festive foods are readily available but there is no need to eat in excess as doing so could have some serious health implications. Putting on excessive weight puts a strain on every joint in the body.

2. Limit foods high in saturated fats to keep cholesterol in check. Unhealthy fats can be found in all fried foods, processed meats and some dairy. Whilst it is OK to eat healthy fats in moderation, too much unhealthy food can put a strain on the arteries and therefore put you at risk of heart disease. Swap saturated fats for better alternatives, lay off the cheese and biscuits and don’t over-indulge in puddings this Christmas!

3. Don’t eat late at night and go to sleep right after a heavy meal. This might disrupt your sleep patterns and your body needs a few hours to fully digest a meal to keep the digestive system in top form. You can aid digestion with green or peppermint tea and lots of leafy greens.

4. Alcohol affects the brain and contributes to depression in adults. Binging on alcohol brings some additional disadvantages such as dehydration, bloating, bad breath, spots, high blood pressure, liver disease – the list goes on. Research has also shown that the more alcohol we drink, the increased likelihood of unprotected sex, bringing further complications like sexually transmitted diseases and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Make sure you drink in a safe environment, stick to the recommended unit allowance and avoid drinking alcohol daily throughout the holidays. 

5. Curb the cigarettes. During the holidays, regular smokers smoke excessively and those who have the odd cigarette do so more often increasing the risks of heart disease and stroke. Try to cut down or quit this winter. Speak to your GP to get advice on the best ways to quit.

6. Continue to exercise – winter weather is not an excuse! By keeping moving, the risk of developing diabetes is cut as activity can affect blood glucose for as long as 48 hours. Get moving and it will keep you warm too!

7. Ensure that you have a flu vaccination in the early autumn. During the winter, our immune systems are lower than usual partly because of a reduced exposure to the sun and because winter flu viruses spread more easily between us as we are indoors. Pneumonia accounts for a large percentage of additional deaths in the winter. Protect yourself this winter.

8. Recognise social isolation. For many, Christmas time is a time for visiting family and friends and hosting and attending social events. For others, social isolation is a growing epidemic with emotional, mental and physical consequences. Anxiety and depression are more likely to be apparent at this time of year. If you feel you are at risk or know someone who is, get in touch with your GP. 

9. Don’t do too much. In December, we often spend too much money and cram in as many activities as possible to ensure everyone has a lovely festive time. Slow down. Prioritise so you don’t overdo things. Reduce your stress levels and get good amount of sleep. It is important to maintain the body’s routine. Poor sleep leads to stress and weight gain. 

10. Stay hydrated. Drinking fluids, particularly water, is crucial to maintaining the function of every system in your body including your heart, brain, and muscles and staying healthy generally.